Learning the Language

Discussion of Thai-Western relationships and the book, "Thailand Fever."
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danny2gs
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Learning the Language

#1 Postby danny2gs » Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:52 am

I finished the book and now I want to work on being understood and hopefully understanding the language. I have poor hearing so I am afraid I won't be able to hear all of the differnt tones, but it is my hope. Can anyone recomend a Language program. There is Rosetta Stone, Pimsluer, and Paiboon Publishings has three differnt ones at least, which one should I try. I really want to be able to at least communicate clearly. Any suggestions would be ahelp.
Thanks,
2g's

DAGO
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#2 Postby DAGO » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:26 am

Rosetta stone has helped me the best. I couldn't even keep up with Learning thai for beginners. Was on the wrong page half of the time

Rapid
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Learn to Read Thai first (in a Day)

#3 Postby Rapid » Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:37 am

I am the author of Read Thai in a Day. It's a downloadable interactive e-course. It does sound a little far-fetched, doesn't it? Nevertheless, it only requires a few hours to master the Thai alphabet and the tone system if you use the visual-thinking and memory-association approach upon which the method is based. (As in "Men in Black 2", the brain does require time to "reboot" as it were. You also do need to allow time for the information to "percolate" in your brain, so the recommended method is to complete the course over two readings at least a week apart, and refresh it all a month later.) Please visit http://www.learnthaionline.com.

I am plugging my system because (as most Thai teachers and experienced learners will tell you) I realized that in order to learn Thai quickly and effectively, it is absolutely vital to be able to read Thai from the beginning.

My advice to anybody wishing to learn Thai is to learn to read first - buy my system - and then sign up with a school or a teacher who will jump straight into Thai reading and listening. AUA follows an immersion approach, but I don't think it's effective on its own. Their idea is to put you in a class which is just beyond your level of comprehension, so that your mind "stretches" into the language, as it were. This is how children acquire a language. But we are no longer children and our brains function in different ways. (I'm currently doing Masters/Doctoral research on this issue, so I'm still trying to find out for sure...)

So buy my course Read Thai in a Day and then buy the bilingual storybooks, Winne The Pooh, Noddy, etc. (I will send you a recommended reading list after you've completed the course. Work through the books (reading out loud) with a Thai teacher who can explain why sentences are written the way they are.

(I did previously suggest Thailand Fever, but the translation is very idiomatic and not suitable for absolute beginners. I would, however, highly recommend it as a way to help you as an intermediate student to achieve fluency in Thai!)

Children's books use quite flowery language (and when will you enter into a discussion about witches and goblins anyway), but there are some books for young readers that are quite relevant. Very soon, within a few months, you will be able to read stuff that interests you personally. It's more fun to learn Thai this way, as opposed to learning "standard" phrases from a grammar book. Magazines and newspaper articles are too technical/advanced for a beginner.

I personally find Rosetta Stone extremely dull and repetitive. One of the very first words learnt is "bicycle", not something one would talk about when one first comes to Thailand... :)

The Pimsleur audio course is quite good (albeit very rudimentary and a little dull) for developing an "ear" for Thai and for practising to speak with a good, clear accent. It is important to repeat everything you hear in the course in an exaggerated manner. You should practice reading aloud also. Speaking properly requires muscle training, just like learning to dance.

There is plenty of research that shows that reading is the most effective way (for adults) to develop competence and fluency in a language (e.g. Stephen Krashen). In my own research, I've discovered that you can only really hear what you already understand.

The phonetic approach to learning Thai commonly used by most beginner books and schools is severely limiting and usually leads to learning an incorrect version of Thai. At best, you will end up learning a kind of mangled Thai that only Thais used to tourists will understand (in which case you may as well stick to English). You will quickly reach a ceiling beyond which you will never progress without having to start again from scratch. It's why most foreigners give up... :shock:

The Paiboon books are okay, in that they are fairly thorough - but also quite dull. If you want an introductory language book then I highly recommend Everyday Thai for Beginners by Wiworn Kesavatana-Dohrs. The unique feature is that it does not use phonetics.
Last edited by Rapid on Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Farang
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#4 Postby Farang » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:48 pm

Learn to read Thai in a day? That's insane. It takes a month just to memorize the consonants. And that's if you work at it everyday. Then you have to memorize the consonant classes, vowels, final consonants and tone marks.

Good luck with that in one day. :)

Rapid
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It's not possible to do it in a day!

#5 Postby Rapid » Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:40 pm

Thank you so much for your beautiful response, FARANG! :) Yours is exactly the experience so many people have when they try to learn Thai.

Which is why I devised a system from scratch that uses cutting-edge mnemonic science and subliminal techniques.

It really is possible to "memorize" (forever) all the consonants, vowel combinations, so-called final consonants and tone marks (plus the complicated tone rules in general) - all in a single day.

I've done it many times at my weekend workshops. Participants learn the letters, etc. on the first day; and on the second day we start to read simple Thai texts to learn some basic Thai language and to consolidate what was learnt the day before. OK, so two days to really "get" it, not one! (Sue me.)

I invite you to try it. Please visit www.genggwaa.com/html/read_thai_in_a_day.html for details, and samples of the Thai texts you will be able to read on the second day.

GUARANTEE: If you can read by the end of the weekend then please come back and write a glowing review. If you can't then I will refund you the fees in full (you get the delicious meals & refreshments for free! not to mention the self-study e-book as well) and I encourage you to report back your dissatisfaction on this forum.

Farang
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#6 Postby Farang » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:56 am

I'm sure you can teach a horse to read the word ม้า in one day. But I'll learn the old fashioned way. Thanks.

Rapid
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Learning the old fashioned way

#7 Postby Rapid » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:41 pm

Fair enough :P

Please write some feedback on your experience - you could be the "control" subject, hahaha.

If you insist on learning the old fashioned way, I highly recommend one of the following for clarity and comprehensiveness:

www.thai-language.com/id/830221

or the reading guide included in the downloadable dictionary that you can buy from thai2english.com for $40: visit http://blog.thai2english.com.

Keep in mind that if you learn this way, it's unlikely you'll be able to use my method. You'd have to unlearn or forget everything about classes, tones, vowel lengths, etc. etc.

Best wishes. I look forward to your report with antttttt...icipation :)

Farang
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#8 Postby Farang » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:38 pm

Thanks Rapid. Why would I want, or need to unlearn Thai? In order to learn Thai? Your post is just mind boggling. Have you ever considered running for President of the Unites States? :)

Rapid
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unlearning Thai

#9 Postby Rapid » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:47 pm

"Farang", I'm not sure whether you are trying to flame me or whether you are genuinely studying the Thai writing system.

If you have made an initial attempt to learn to read Thai then you will know about the three consonant classes: high, middle, low. You should also know that vowels are either short or long and that syllables are either dead or live. And you will probably memorize the consonant names, kgoh kgai, doh dekg, etc. and recognize the letter shapes. You may even study and memorize the possible cluster combinations and which letters can end a syllable (and perhaps even the "farang" equivalent of how the letter sound changes at the end of each syllable - which doesn't exist in Thai by the way, except for R/N, L/N or Y/N letters). And the vowels are either on the left, on top, on the right or underneath the consonant - and often you will have two or three vowel symbols surrounding a consonant to produce a completely different vowel sound.

There is more, as you probably know.

Most people give up at this point, because it is quite difficult to memorize the hundreds of combinations, calculate the tone possibilities and take into account certain exceptions, which depend on combinations of consonant clusters wherein each consonant is from a different class, etc. etc.

If you have reached this point and you then want to learn using the Rapid system, then you will have to unlearn all the above rules and various combinations of letters. Or at very least find a way to "transpose" some of the rules to the Rapid system (e.g. girls are high class, boys are middle class and ladyboys are low class).

If you are serious about learning Thai (which means starting to read) then please do follow the recommend link(s) and learn the traditional system. Please go as far as you can and see how long it takes you and how well you subsequently manage to read after you have understood and memorized it all.

Only then will you appreciate what I am saying! And I would then be interested in your comments and opinion. I will be happy to let you look closely at the Rapid system for you to make a comparison. I am intrigued to find out whether it is possible to unlearn the standard Thai system and apply the Rapid method. Those who have attempted to do so in the past have said that they find it hard to see the shapes the Rapid way (and hence don't appreciate the sex differences and how this relates to tones).

All the very best...

Farang
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#10 Postby Farang » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:31 pm

Sex differences? Lady Boys? You've lost me entirely. Phonetics don't work. They've tried it in the US. Hopefully they've vacated that system.

What do Ladyboys have to do with learning Thai? Thai children learn Thai properly. And for a reason. They don't go to "workshops" to learn it in two days.

I'm certain the Thai Government won't be asking Thai children to "unlearn" Thai, so you can personally teach them "properly" in one weekend for cash.

This thread is nothing but your own personal info-mercial.

If you think I'm flaming you, I'm not. You've brought this on yourself with your posts.

Rapid
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Learn to read Thai

#11 Postby Rapid » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:55 am

Well, there are none so blind as those who will not see. You obviously haven't bothered to download the ebook and skim through the free sections. I'm not sure you've checked out the learn to read Thai link on thai-language.com either.

Yes, you are absolutely right in saying that "phonetics don't work". But you seem to have missed the point entirely, which is that people with a Western background (not native Thai speakers) can learn to read Thai in a weekend using my "commercial" program. How it is done isn't really relevant. It isn't necessary to learn "properly". What matters is the outcome of being able to read at all. I don't understand why you are so confused and upset about it...

The cost of doing so is a fraction of what it costs to learn the traditional way, which normally requires around 150-200 hours of study (around 30,000 baht at a Thai language school, not to mention the time off work and the cost of travelling to and from classes twice a week for 4-6 months). And even then the ability to read isn't fully mastered.

Finally, if the Thai government can find a way to teach Thai children to read in only two days (instead of 2-3 years) then they would welcome such an initiative. In fact, I am currently advising the Education Ministry in Thailand on a similar program for teaching English. It happens to be based on games and stories and physical activities without any linguistic or grammatical instruction. But they really don't care how it's done so long as the children are able to speak and understand English fluently by the time they reach secondary school.


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